Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is my favourite poet and for me her novels never reach the heights that her poetry achieves. The Handmaid's Tale is a disturbing glimpse into a possible future America where women have become purely breeding machines to re-populate a world devastated by the effects of nuclear fall-out and too many 'unnatural' women having decided to not have children. A world where women are banned from reading and where Scrabble is the equivalent of an illicit drug. The novel explores life under an oppressive regime and throws up a lot of interesting questions about how much the oppressed collude in their own oppression. However, I found myself constantly distracted by what seemed to me an unlikely timeline, I think if she'd taken out references to the actual 1970s and 1980s the reader may have been able to suspend more disbelief and work out timelines to their own satisfaction. My partner says this problem just proves I don't read enough Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I pointed out that although this book is described as Science Fiction and is actually Futuristic Fantasy it's marketed as Fiction and most readers will be coming with a background in Atwood's previous books rather than in genre SF/Fantasy novels.

It's an interesting novel to read, but in future I'll stick to her poetry!

3 comments:

daisies said...

i am so in love with margaret atwood and own all of her poetry books and criticisms and fiction novels ~ they are well worn, read and loved. :)

i think i read the handmaid's tale back in the 1980s for the first time so the timelines never bothered me, lol ...

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love her poetry but her novels don't impress me so much somehow. I've read most of them because I love her poetry but.... I guess timelines in the Handmaid's Tale would be less distracting if you've read it in the 80s just around when it was written!

AscenderRisesAbove said...

i love love love atwood; read all her novels and loved each one as well. cats eye i think is my favorite novel of hers. she has some amazing short stories but i don't like them as much; so disappointed when they end. i think into the secular night is my favorite atwood poem.